Packers Cornerback Position: Panic time?

The Green Bay Packers have already lost cornerback Devon House to a big money contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars (showing why the Jaguars are the Jaguars). The physical cornerback would have been a candidate to replace fellow free agent Tramon Williams if/when he left.

Williams, the Packers starter and best cover corner, supposedly rejected the Packers offer of a two year contract with compensation rumored to be $4M/year.

Tramon made one visit so far to the New Orleans Saints, but left without an offer. Later, the Saints announced that they had reached agreement with former Patriots corner Brandon Browner which may mean Williams will not receive an offer from the Saints.

Yet other suitors remain for the talented Packers cornerback.

Fellow starter Sam Shields had an inconsistent 2014 season.

So can the Packers afford to let Williams walk with no proven press corner on the current roster to take his place?

Let’s do a quick comparison of Williams and possible replacements, and disclose why it may indeed be panic time in Green Bay.

 

Tramon Williams

The particulars:

32 years old, 5”11”, 181 lbs.
16 game starter for the Packers.
Formerly a non-drafted player from Louisiana Tech.

Last season he totaled 79 tackles, 0 sacks, and 3 interceptions. He allowed 70 receptions for 857 yards, and opposing quarterbacks completed 63.6% of all passes thrown his way.

Per Pro Football Focus his overall cornerback rating was +1.2, and pass coverage was +1.7.

CBS Sports rated Williams as the 59th rated free agent regardless of position.

The Packers have said that they value Williams and want him back. Given his age he will only return on their terms.

The best of the remaining options should Williams find a new home in 2015 are reviewed below.

 

Chris Culliver  (Editor’s NOTE: An hour after this post was published, Culliver signed 4yr deal with Washington.)

The Particulars:

6’ 0”, 199 lbs. 26 years old.
Starting cornerback formerly of San Francisco 49’ers.
A former third round pick out of South Carolina.

Last season he allowed only 37 catches on 73 passes thrown his way for 468 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Culliver started every game for the 49’ers last season and according to Pro Football Focus had an overall rating of +8.5, including a +8.2 rating on pass defense.

He tallied 47 total tackles and was only credited with 4 missed tackles.

The San Francisco 49’ers are seemingly blowing up the entire franchise and on the outside looking in is one if not the best remaining cornerbacks on the free agent market. CBS Sports has Culliver rated the 35th overall best free agent.

Culliver made news prior to Super Bowl XLVII regarding gay players, but has since apologized. He remains one of the few solid young corners on the market and has size and skill set to play man coverage in the Packers 3-4 defense.

 

Perrish Cox

The particulars:

6’ 0”, 198 lbs. 28 years old
He started 15 games last year for the San Francisco 49’ers.
Formerly a 5th round draft choice out of Oklahoma State.

He tallied 53 tackles, 0 sacks and 5 interceptions.

He allowed receptions at a 61% clip for 830 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Pro Football Focus overall pass coverage was +1.2,
and pass coverage -0.6.

Cox did not appear on CBS Sports ranking of the top 100 free agents.

It appears that San Francisco is poised to lose both of their starting cornerbacks in free agency and will be looking elsewhere for replacements.

 

Bradley Fletcher

The particulars:

6’ 0” 200 lbs.  28 Years old
Starting cornerback Philadelphia Eagles
A former 3rd round pick out of Iowa.

Last season he tallied 60 tackles, 1 Int, 0 sacks.

Per Pro Football Focus has a rating at a -8.4 overall, -12.7 in pass coverage.

He was thrown at 161 times, and he allowed 53% of those passes to be caught.

CBS Sports has Fletcher rated as the 79th best free agent prospect prior to the start of FA. Said to be tough and physical.

Fletcher was cut by the Eagles along with fellow starting corner back Cary Williams in what is turning out to be a total makeover in Philadelphia. Last year Fletcher was responsible for 1,072 receiving yards, the most of any corner in the NFL. In addition he surrendered 9 TDs which was second-most in the league. He was benched prior to being released by the Eagles.

Third best corner available not including Williams but a big drop-off in talent and production.

 

The prognosis:

The draft-and-develop Packers will surely select a cornerback in the upcoming draft. Yet it would be a huge gamble to rely on that player to step into a starting role. The Packers do have alternatives already on the roster, but none appear to fit the mold of a physical press corner so valuable to a successful Packers 3-4 defense.

The prudent move, in my opinion, is to work out a deal to bring Williams back while a suitable replacement can be groomed to take his place. They are too close to a championship to miss on an important position this late in the game.

Time will tell on this position however; and probably sooner rather than later.

——————

Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .

——————

35 thoughts on “Packers Cornerback Position: Panic time?

  1. To me, the longer Tramon goes without an offer from another team the better the chances are for the Packers. I don’t know what it would take to sign Culliver but he sounds like a good option if Williams moves on. The Packers will draft a CB but I doubt whoever it is will be ready to contribute significantly in 2015. If there are any shutdown corners in this year’s draft they will be gone by the time the Packers pick. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Agree 100%, especially on Culliver. Not sure what kind of deal he’s looking for though. The only other team I heard interested in Tramon Williams was the Seahawks, and they surely do not have the cap room after signing, Lynch, Jimmy Graham and having to re-sign Russell Wilson. Hopefully time is on the Packers side this time….and after all, Williams will still have a shot at a SB ring.

        1. Thanks for the heads up. I’d be happy if Tramon returned. If I had to guess, Ted Thompson will patiently wait this thing out. There doesn’t seem to be much interest in Tramon. Fingers crossed for a return to Lambeau for him. Packers can still draft a CB to develop so when Williams does retire, there won’t be a gaping hole left in the secondary.

    2. Time to move on from T. Williams..,.The last thing I remember is that long pass play where is was toasted!!! THAT play lost the Seattle game!!

  2. I completely agree that TT will undoubtably draft a CB this year, and I also agree that the best thing for GB would be for Tramon to sign a frontloaded deal that makes him easy to cut without serious cap ramifications if/when his skills erode.

    That said, I do think that if the run defense can get better and the pass rush can stay steady, we won’t NEED the CBs to be the heroes of the defense like they were for the latter half of last year. The only reason Tramon and Sam had to play so much cover 0 was because Burnett had to spend his entire year in the box to cover up for our ILB and NT deficiency.

    Fix that and we’re killing two birds with one stone.

    1. I want Tramon back, but am not too worried if the team moves on without him, or any other free agent CB. Hayward has shown his abilities and has measurables that compare favorably to Williams in the combine he had a pretty good bench compared to our other corners. Hyde is good in the slot, and who knows what Demetri Goodson may produce.

      The Packers have a good track record of find and developing good DBs.

  3. So long as the Packers have the offensive firepower they do, they’ll always need depth at outside CB because teams will be forced to throw downfield and throw a lot. Whether they sign TWill or not, they’ll need a CB in the first two days of the draft. Maybe that guy won’t be an immediate starter, but that guy will need to be able to play right away, and you can groom him to step in after TWill or to replace Hayward (if TWill leaves) and allow Hayward to move back into the slot.

    1. I agree they need CB help, although I’m not sure if a CB must be selected within 1-2 rounds. Remember Micah Hyde was taken in the 5th round and he’s turned out very nicely.

      1. Hyde is fine, but he’s not an outside corner. Put him out there and I think they’d eat his lunch.

        I don’t know for sure about rounds 1-2, but I think they’ll get an extra 3rd round compensatory pick, so taking that CB at the end of round 3 on day 2 wouldn’t be a bad spot.

        1. I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of GB getting a compensatory 3rd round pick (I’ll be available to eat internet crow if they do get such a high pick). If Hayward can’t play man on an island, TT better find an impact player for the front 7 because Capers will not be able to play a single high safety. We’ll have to take at least 1 ILB day 1/2, and probably another somewhere, but otherwise this is a good draft for DTs, DEs, OLBs, WRs, RBs, OTs. Take the value. There are some CBs but not quality at the top.

          1. Yep. Shields started his rookie year, but Tramon bounced around for a few years first. TT is good at finding DBs, but not sure I want to rely on him finding a starting CB day 3 or in UDFAgency.

  4. Terence Knighton signed with Washington on a 1 year deal. The DT field is thinning out, hopefully Packers bring back Guion and/or Raji for cheap (Raji on another 1 year “prove it” deal too).

  5. I commented on a early article that I thought a outside (not slot) CB is our number one need right now, more than a ILB. At least ( how it stands now) we could still play CM3 inside with Barrington. This is not ideal, but, it got us by the second half of the season last year . However, not finding a quality running mate for an average Shields is a bigger issue. Getting burnt on the outside will lose games. Losing both House and Williams is a big deal. If we don’t get a good CB, a lot of games will look like the Julio Jones game last year. This pass happy league with its quality WRs requires good CBs. Do we want to rely on a rookie draft choice? Please bring back Williams for insurance, Ted. A 2 year ,5.5 M per year, deal if you have to. But structure it were Williams can be dumped in year 2 (if needed) and not cost much in dead money.

  6. Barring injury, they’ll be fine at corner. Hayward and Hyde are gonna have to step up, but the newly improved safety play will help them out a lot. I’m sure they’ll draft at least one, but you can find good corners all over in the draft. Brashaud Breeland and Bene Benwikere were fourth and fifth round picks last year and both played great as rookies. Plus, Ted seems to have a knack for drafting corners.

    1. Those operative words, ‘barring injury’. It’s probable that Shield and Williams (if back) are going to miss some time.

      Casey Hayward in the slot in nickel is an entirely different guy than the one that has to cover someone 1-1 on the edge. Same thing with Hyde.

      If the Packers have any injury issues, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

      1. “If the Packers have any injury issues, it ain’t gonna be pretty.” – You can say that about any position.

        As far as Shields and Williams go, they’ve been relatively healthy the last couple years, so I don’t know why you’re assuming they’ll miss time. Shields played 14 games each of the last two years. Tramon played in all of them.

        The most important thing is that you can find good corners all throughout the draft who can come in and make an impact as rookies and TT’s had good luck drafting corners in the past.

  7. TT made the absolute right moves by dumping the worst ILB tandem in the league and then bringing Cobb & BB back. However, we still have holes to fill one the D and Teddy’s on Fire Island counting his $21 million & waiting for scraps & players to get released…….C’mon ya can’t take it with ya and AR’s not getting any younger.

    1. You should sit down and crunch some numbers. $21.3 – $3 for draft choices = $18.3. Guion and Raji might be $4 together (but TT has to wait on Fire Island for them to come around – Raji might still be looking for $4 mill just for him). Down to $14.3. Tramon might be $5 if TT waits him out, down to $9.3. Might want Kuhn or Bush, down to $7.3. Might want Housler at TE or some other FA cap casualty.

      2016 looks dicey as to the cap. Daniels – $4 mill increase (for 2016 cap purposes)? Hayward – $3 mill increase? Perry – $2 mill increase? Neal – No increase? Starks – No increase? Shields and Nelson’s cap goes up $7 mill. Cobb and Bulaga’s cap increases $6 mill. Rodgers and CM3 goes up $2 mill. That is 27 Mill in cap increases. If Peppers leaves, we get $8 mill in cap savings. I don’t see who else we have as cap casualties. As Greg says below, you can take it with you, and perhaps TT should consider keeping some to rollover into 2016.

      1. Packers rookie pool is set at $5.79MM, so their starting number goes down to $15.5MM.

        I’d guess the Packers stow the extra $$ in the rainy day fund and roll what’s left to ’16.

        1. I wrote a post about the 2016 cap, which looks a little dicey, so I agree with your main point that TT probably can sign Tramon or the like, maybe one more mid-tier FA if he decides to push the cap a bit, but the rest needs to be rolled over.

          The rookie pool allocation $5.79MM and the actual cap implications of signing the draft choices are two different things. Cap geeks like me write this every year. GB needs to keep about $2.5 to $3 million for the cap, not $5.79 MM. I can’t find the really good article on this, but here is a link to Overthecap’s explanation:

          http://overthecap.com/explaining-the-nfl-rookie-pool-and-its-impact-on-the-salary-cap/

  8. As long as Ted’s not counting on Goodson, he was absolutely terrible last year in the preseason. Sorry guys, I’m not hign on him at all and really dislike Free Agency, especially when we lose players like House.

    1. Don’t you get tired of TT doing nothing? While former Packer Schneider just kills it again getting Jimmy Graham. Losing 3 or 4 guys, bringing in no one, and calling it a victory cause he ponied up for Cobb and Bulaga. 23 million sitting there. Bears are making use of their money, Seattle making moves, Buffalo, Miami…everyone but us. This is how you get to close but no cigar every damn year.

      1. lol the Seattle OL is in shambles, so you might want to wait before slurping Schneider’s jock. besides, it’s easy to make moves where your QB is making $700k. & please go root for Chicago, Buffalo, and Miami if you are so confident in them. did you hitch your wagon to the TB train last year? how bout Cleveland or Oakland? or Denver? last time I checked, none of those spenders could even claim they got close.

        “Don’t mistake activity with achievement.” -John Wooden

        1. I agree with you there, the OL in Seattle is in a shambles and they have to pay Wilson next year. Seattle will make a run for it this year because of Wilson’s upcoming contract but I don’t know HOW they fix that OL, LG, C, and RT from last year don’t just grow on trees and mesh.
          But my ONLY complaint with Ted has been the FA market. How would Knighton have looked in Packers uniform for $4 million? Or how about Spikes or Mason Foster? I have to think Foster is better than any ILB on the Packers roster right now and wouldn’t break the bank. It only takes a player or 2 to make a team much better. Case in point, Peppers and Guion, where would have the Packers been without them last season? Peppers isn’t just some guy but did you see Guion coming? I didn’t.

          BUT there’s not another GM that I’d rather have than Thompson when it comes to the cap. I have a feeling Ted will get it done, if not now then after June 1st. Obviously a lot depends on the draft.

      2. No, this the way TT does it, and year after year the team contends. Jimmy Graham to Seattle looks like subtraction by addition, sort of like last years Lions.

    2. I thought he stayed with the WR very well, it just seemed like he had not idea what to do once the ball was in the air. He needs a lot of coaching. Can’t tell whether the light bulb will come on for him. I am just looking at him to be the dime.

      1. Maybe, but I see them taking a CB in the 1st 3 rounds. I can still see Goodson giving up those pass plays last preseason. Ahhhhhhhhh!!!! Capers defense is tough for these rookies to come right in and grasp. We need a another Sam Shields from 2010 to come along in 2015.

        1. Agreed. I should have written that I was HOPING Goodson could be our Dime back this yr. I have no idea what Goodson brings to GB in terms of actual ability to get onto and stay on the field. I thought Rolle could actually have stepped in and been our Dime Back last year, but TT botched that.

  9. PANIC?
    Alfred E Newman put it like this, “What, Me worry?” But be serious folks, you have Ted Thompson, GM and Head Scout working at the D-backs along with everywhere else, and he wouldn’t let good players go bye-bye without at least working on trying to keep them. You guys think just because you remember a name the team can’t lose them? Wrong. The players that seem “on the fence” right now are good athletes. What you are seeing in Green Bay is a change, from a team just in the playoffs year after year, to a team that challenges the big one, this year # 50 is here. That means let good players go and get only the best. TT looks to have Green Bay represented for the NFC in SF’s new Levi’s stadium, and they thank all you guys who buy those jeans, priced 3 times more than…

    Thompson will turn that D-backfield around on a 180. Last season we drafted high, Shields came to be and this season what will Ted have up his sleeve? He’s the absolute best in this business and don’t forget that. What we are seeing is the Packers turning from 1st or 2nd round playoffs, into going deep year in and out. The Packers are the company NE hasn’t had for the past 15 years, and the Green Bay Packers are arriving.

Comments are closed.